KEY TOPICS in CULTURAL GEOGRAPHYThe field of cultural geography is wide-ranging and comprehensive. To organize it,geographers focus on six prominent areas of study and research. The first is culturallandscape. The cultural landscape is the composite of artificial features (buildings &roads) and intangible qualities (“atmosphere”) of a place. Cultural landscapes range fromthe very primitive to ….
…. the very modern, dominated by skyscrapers and high population densities.
Religion, as a cultural trait, is a dominantfeature of most cultural landscapes.
The cultural landscape culminates in the “townscape”and/or “cityscape,” which is verydistinctive from one culture region to another.
Closely related to cultural landscape is sequent occupance. This refers to an area thathas been inhabited, and transformed, by a succession of residents, each of them leavinga lasting imprint.
CULTURE HEARTHSIn the course of human history, some communities have thrived, while others havestagnated or declined. Culture hearthswere the sources of civilizations, where ideas,innovations, and ideologies radiated outward and changed the world. Did all culturehearths become great civilizations? What great breakthrough did all the ancientculture hearths achieve?
Two great civilizations that did emerge from ancient culture hearths were ancient Egyptand ….
…. the Native American civilizations in Latin America, including the Aztecs, Incas, andMayans.
Explain the phenomenon of human sacrifice as a cultural trait of the Incas and the other twogreat civilizations of Latin America, including the Aztecs and Mayans.
CULTURAL DIFFUSIONThe ancient culture hearths were focal points of innovation & invention. These ideas andstimuli radiated outward, reaching distant peoples, and quickly adopted and oftenmodified or refined; others fell on barren ground. The process of dissemination from itssource area to other cultures is known as cultural diffusion.Describe the phenomenon of independent invention (Mayan v. Egyptian artifacts).
EXPANSION DIFFUSION Expansion diffusion occurs when an innovation or idea develops in a source area and remains strong at the source while spreading outward. Provide some examples of this phenomenon. Expansion diffusion takes several forms, including contagious diffusion, hierarchical diffusion, and stimulus diffusion.
A good application of expansion diffusion is “America’s pastime,” baseball, to othergeographic regions.
Contagious diffusion is a form of expansion diffusion in which what is diffusing spreadsoutward from a node or epicenter in wave-like fashion. Spatially contagious diffusionemphasizes the frictional force of distance in explaining the spread of things in time andspace. Provide some examples of this form of diffusion.
Hierarchical diffusion occurs when the main channel of diffusion is some segment of thosewho are susceptible to (or adopting) what is being diffused. The idea, innovation, ordisease may not always spread throughout a fixed population. Provide some examples ofthis type of diffusion.Explain the third form of expansion diffusion, stimulus diffusion. And provide someexamples of this phenomenon.
RELOCATION DIFFUSIONRelocation diffusion involves the actual movement of individuals who have already adopted the idea.Thus, people move the idea, not the idea moving itself as in expansion diffusion. Describe andprovide an example of migrant diffusion. Identify the forces working against diffusion and provideexamples.
CULTURAL IMPERIALISM Related to the process of diffusion and creating controversy in a growing number of countries is the phenomenon of cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism occurs when a more dominant culture diffuses into weaker and/or less developed cultures, and begins to dominate it. American culture has done this worldwide, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Foreigners are concerned about the pervasiveness of American culture in their countries.
The U.S.-led war on terrorism in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where U.S. forces have achievedregime change and are in the process of nation-building, appears to many around the world as blatantAmerican cultural imperialism.
CULTURAL PERCEPTIONAlthough architecture – even simple dwellings in remote areas – dominates the culturallandscape, other aspects of daily life also contribute to the character of places. Identifyand describe other characteristics that help us define a place.
PERPCEPTUAL REGIONSPerceptual Regions: Our perceptions of our own community and culture may differ quitesharply from those of other people in other cultures. They are believed to exist as partof a specific cultural identity. Such regions emerge from concepts that people useinformally in daily life, rather than from scientific models. How do you know when youcross over a perceptual region boundary? Do geographers agree entirely on theirboundaries? Do they agree on their impact?
ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINISMHuman cultures exist in a long-term accommodation with their physical environments,seizing opportunities presented by those environments and suffering from the limitationsand extremes they sometimes impose. Explain the doctrine of environmentaldeterminism.
Of all the environmental factors, which one is the most critical, according to thisdoctrine? Explain possibilism as a counter-argument to environmental determinism.Will all countries enjoy the same potential for possibilism? What would you identifyas the biggest factor?